Illustrator: Robert Sabin
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Bodice Ripper, Forced Seduction, Historical Romance, Romance with Rape Element, Western Romance
Introducing Dueling Reviews
In this new segment, we have two reviewers offering their opinions on a single romance. Here, Introvert Reader explains her negative perspective on Karen A. Bale’s historical romance, Desperado Dream.
Blue Falcon, on the other hand, gave it a positive review and found the book emotionally captivating.
TOTAL SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Desperado’s Dream by Karen A. Bale, a Zebra Lovegram romance, is a perfect example of false advertising.
The huge failure of this story rests on the fact that nothing in the book description stated this was entry #2 in a series about Eric & Lisa, a married couple.
Of course, Zebra book descriptions never accurately describe the plot, but I didn’t know that back then (1990). If I had known going into Desperado’s Dream that it was part 2 of Eric and Lisa’s story and wasn’t About Lisa and Cruz, I never would have bought and read this. But at the tender age of 12, I was dazzled by the Robert Sabin cover.
Plus, the (purported) hero’s name, Cruz, reminded me of the daytime soap opera Santa Barbara, its phenom super couple, Eden & Cruz, and the hunky star, A. Martinez, who played half of said super-couple.
I did know the heroine was married, as the book blurb does state that fact outright. But I had assumed this was one of those historical romances where the husband is a creep and dies, leaving the hero & heroine to be together. It wasn’t.
Lisa & Eric are married, and he leaves her and their daughter behind to take care of business matters. Lisa’s not happy about her husband leaving them alone without protection. Then this gorgeous hunk, Cruz, and his fellow banditos show up at Lisa’s ranch to take her land.
While the rest of the criminal gang are ruthless men, Cruz is kinder and gentler. He protects Lisa and keeps the men away from her, drawing antagonism from the rest of the crew.
Events turn sour, and Lisa and Cruz have to pretend to be married so the men won’t molest her. At gunpoint, they are forced to prove to the banditos that their marriage is real. Cruz has sex with Lisa in a very unsexy scene where she is tearful and thinks about her husband.
The thing is, Lisa’s protests against Cruz’s lovemaking aren’t half-hearted. They’re real. She never surrenders to “the ecstasy of her captor’s virile embrace.”
While Cruz is in love with her, Lisa is still madly in love with her husband, Eric, the real “hero” of this book. The man who abandoned her at the beginning of the story is the man she ends up with.
That would have been fine for me if:
- The blurb hadn’t implied Cruz was the hero
- Lisa had spent most of the book with Eric rather than Cruz.
Lisa becomes pregnant and chooses to stay with Cruz her unborn baby’s father, Shu she longs for her husband Eric, and their child. Then there is an evil “other woman,” Teresa, who has designs on both of Lisa’s men. She causes tons of trouble.
But after Lisa suffers a miscarriage due to Teresa’s machinations, she leaves a heartbroken Cruz behind. Lisa should have ended up with Cruz because, to me, he seemed to love her more genuinely than Eric, who was a bit of a selfish prick.
Final Analysis of Desperado Dream
Perhaps if I had first read the precursor to Desperado Dream, The Forever Passion (published over a decade prior) I would have felt differently about this Karen A. Bale romance.
As it was, the ending was devastating to me. It left a sour taste in my mouth. I think this is the only book that was in pristine condition that I tossed into the garbage.
I can’t recommend this Desperado Dream. Maybe readers familiar with The Forever Passion might want to see the continuing adventures of Eric and Lisa. But in a book where they’re separated most of the time, I doubt it.
[W]hile her husband was away, [Lisa,] the auburn-haired beauty found it hard to deny her own passionate nature, especially when Cruz, the handsome desperado, commandeered her ranch. And when he captured her and took her to his mountain hideaway, where she was forced at gunpoint to pretend to be his bride, her protests were only half-hearted, for she found herself on the verge of surrendering to the ecstasy of her captor’s virile embrace.Desperado Dream by Karen A. Bale